In his opening remarks, Simon Molesworth, Chairman of INTO (the International National Trusts Organisation), said “Conservation is a vital strategy in addressing climate change and I call upon world leaders to put in place measures at Copenhagen to protect our heritage so that it can be enjoyed by future generations”.
The impacts of climate change are already having tremendous implications for the inspirational and beautiful buildings, landscapes and cultural heritage cared for by our INTO member organisations. At times these can be spectacular, like the dramatic weather events experienced by the Taiwan National Trust and the Indonesian Heritage Trust this year or the loss of sea ice and permafrost. Often they can be more surreptitious, like the effect of increased rainfall on communities that have historically received little rain or never-ending growing seasons.
National Trusts and like organisations around the world are taking action to reduce the amount of energy used at the sites they look after, to generate energy from renewables and to manage land for carbon storage. INTO member organisations are learning to adapt to the impacts of climate change and their experience can help inform the global debate.
INTO member organisations also run education programmes for visitors to heritage sites to raise awareness of the risks and impacts of climate change. And getting communities and individuals involved in protecting local heritage sites is an effective way of growing awareness of the importance of these places, as well as promoting responsibility in protecting and conserving them.
Strategies to conserve and protect our heritage need leadership and at the end of the conference, INTO produced a declaration which set out ways in which national governments around the globe can promote heritage protection. The text of the ‘Dublin Declaration’ follows and was communicated to world leaders attending the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
The Declaration specifically calls on world leaders to reach agreement in Copenhagen on greenhouse gas reductions (limiting global average temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius); to agree to promote policy frameworks at national and international levels that encourage investment in low carbon technologies; and to support measure which protect heritage sites, both in the natural and built environment.
We shared our document with decision-makers around the world and with fellow delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen in December 2009, where important contacts, co-operative arrangements and opportunities were developed. Building on this process, we are developing an international advocacy programme to underpin INTO’s mission of maintaining our global heritage for future generations.
Simon Molesworth, INTO Chair, continued:
“In December, I was privileged to attend the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen as part of a small INTO delegation. Whilst in many ways the outcomes of COP 15 were disappointing, we saw much that was positive in the Danish capital, such as the networking between different ngos and agencies, the raised profile of climate change issues and the levels of co-operation achieved.
Our delegation was fully occupied networking while in Copenhagen and spent a lot of time describing the work of INTO, National Trusts and the worldwide conservation movement, and how relevant this was to the issue of climate change. Many were surprised but all were impressed when we described our efforts (both of individual trusts and collectively through the Dublin Declaration) to mitigate against, adapt to and educate people about climate change, and the reach that we have. It confirmed for me of the importance of our work, the necessity to use our vast experience to advocate in the interests of conservation and the value of working together – to share resources, to provide a forum for intercultural dialogue and to present a united front.”